In isolation, this statement is confusing. The preceding chapter, great “faith” chapter, Hebrews 11 lists many heroes who lived their faith and suffered for their faith rather than deny God. Read the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12 to set the context of this verse:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 1139-12:1 NIV
The imagery here is a great stadium such as we see during Olympic competition. It is filled with people. We are on the field of competition. They are watching and shouting at us.
- Who are the witnesses who are surrounding us?
- What is the race marked out for us? Why should we run it?
- What might keep us from running with speed and efficiency to the end?
Now read the words that follow this verse:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
- What can we do to avoid becoming tired and discouraged before we get to the end of this race?
- What is the opposition you face today in your race? How will you overcome it and remain convinced of victory in your own race?